Behind the scenes with Twiggy
Once again, another stellar edition of Land Line, and it keeps getting better and better. I noticed with interest in your state legislature update section, Senior Editor Ruth Jones mentions Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber's possible veto of SB 558. With Dr. John's track record, his veto should come as no surprise.
He also infuriated Oregon's motorcyclists when he vetoed their freedom of choice bill at the 11th hour, that would have given Oregon's adult bikers the right to choose whether or not to wear a helmet.
Your own governor in Missouri pulled the same stunt, citing misleading figures from NHTSA, claiming bikers would be public burdens if allowed to ride without a helmet.
This so-called "public burden theory" has been debunked many times before. However, NHTSA and the insurance companies, including the medical and law enforcement agencies (with the latter group using the helmet law as harassment tactics), insist on keeping this false propaganda alive. I'm sure you've heard these arguments before.
Getting back to Kitzhaber. On the cover of the 1998 Oregon Legislative Phone Book, is a picture of John and two of his bodyguards white water rafting. His security people were both wearing flotation gear, including helmets. But Dr. John was only wearing sneakers, shorts, a T-shirt, and no helmet! In other words, "it's do as I say, not as I do."
You may remember recently seeing on the national news about a 14-year-old boy who mowed the grass in all 50 state's capitols on his riding lawn mower. He never had a problem until Kitzhaber entered the picture. It seems John convinced the kid to let him take a spin on the mower. Well, that's exactly what he did and promptly ran into a tree damaging the machine! So, was he wearing his helmet? The answer is obvious. As you can tell, this guy is an honest to goodness "butt kickin' diesel dandy." That's what we call people like that out here in California.
I just thought I'd clue you in on some of the so-called "behind the scenes" antics of this idiot. Once again you've got an excellent publication.
Editor's note: Twiggy describes himself as the "easy news guy" at Easyriders Magazine based in Agoura Hills, CA. He was a long-haul truckdriver from 1969 through 1990.
Editor's choice for great objective letter writing...
I think we owner-operators may never fully realize how fortunate we are to have OOIDA's representation and services. And, a great magazine such as Land Line to report and inform us of industry news and issues. My sincere thanks to a great bunch of folks.
Sandy Lake, PA
Are truck regulators crazy?
You do a great job and I am proud to be an OOIDA member. I would like to see an all-out effort to work on the government, as to who really is responsible for the accidents on the road. Most of us know what we are doing, since we drive more than 100,000 miles a year. This equals 10 years of four-wheeler's (road) time in one year. We do not need people who have no idea what goes on to regulate us, and apparently that's what we have. It's mostly political grandstanding and we need to call more attention to this and stop them from using us as whipping boys. We are out there all the time and could be of help on safety if they stopped making us look at them as our enemy. So what's the matter with the fools? It's our lives on the line!
Are the regulators of trucks nuts? We are found at fault only 15 percent of the time when we are involved in a 4-wheeler accident. What's the matter with our lawmakers? We are more concerned with safety than they are! We live on the road and see how bad they are. We need the fools to work with us. The damned highway patrol and DOT have pressure put on them to get money from us anyway they can. We know it has nothing to do with safety. It's a place for bureaucrats to use more bureaucrats to pay for more police. Most of us on the road are the experts. No one should be allowed to vote or be involved in regulations on us until they have the exposure we do.
Keep saying no
I don't think that they're going to give up until the Mexican trucks overrun the U.S. OOIDA should resist this for all the members.
John W. Hobbs
Seal Beach, CA
Overall Land Line is a really good magazine. It could use more in-depth on things that affect everyone, such as hours of service and what it will really mean to home time. Hard-hitting questions with politicians, etc.
We all know the basics; we need the stuff that is buried that nobody wants to talk about. Changes like the new oils that may or may not be good for older engines. That was a good article.
The other magazines talk around subjects because they don't want to offend advertisers and others. I expect you to dig into the heart of the story and not worry about where the chips may fall.
The other magazines have editors and staff that know nothing about trucking. For example, they always agree that I should be CDL tested, drug tested, run on antiquated rules, never break their laws, drive slower than themselves, get ungodly amounts of sleep, etc.
We need a story on pay. Driver wages have gone up some. A leased tractor maybe two-three cents a mile. Owner-operator is still the same, but the gross amount of the loads are down so 83 percent of $1 a mile isn't what 82 percent of a $1.25 was. Nobody at all tells this story.
Editor's choice for insightful letter writing...
If I ever get out to Grain Valley again, I am going to stop in just to shake your hand. You have got style. One of the things I have always liked about Land Line is its "kick-ass and take names" type of journalism. Honest reporting of the industry only originates from OOIDA.
Sure, mainstream media stumbles through our issues from time to time. But you know as well as I, that transportation is just a sidebar to them. So, pat yourself on the back for a job well done.
I'm a son of a trucker and got my CDL in 1968. A long time ago an old gear jammer told me: "There are two types of truckdrivers, the professional semi-truck driver and the semi-professional truckdriver, and you don't decide which one you are, the people around you will make that decision." So if the drivers want to improve their working conditions they should take a long hard look at their reflection in the mirror, for that's where the grass-roots begins.
Give four wheelers logbooks
No one says truly that most of the rigs in the ditch or involved in the accidents was due to four-wheelers cutting in and out, braking and being reckless. Give them logbooks, pull them over and give them roadside test. Educate them - don't penalize us.
What's wrong with this picture?
It's been said in trucking, the only way to make money is to keep wheels turning. The trouble is, there's an eight-hour break involved every so often wherein the wheels stop turning and the money gets put on hold. From the company's perspective, that break is very unproductive. In fact, that's why companies are all converting to teams. They want their trucks to keep rolling and rolling and rolling.
Why then are Lana Batts and the ATA pushing so hard for an increase in the downtime? Can they have a hidden agenda? Think about it. Companies can convert to teams whereas owner-operators and small-fleet operators usually can't. It's too expensive. And those who can't will be limited while the company trucks will flow freely a full 24 hours a day.
In 1995, I purchased a used trailer from a dealer. His shop completely reworked the brake system. Three months later, I was cited in California for needing the "S" cam bushings replaced. When I disagreed with the inspector and said that they were new I was told there was no question about it. I had the trailer lubed and took it to another inspector who passed it. It has since undergone eight inspections and passed them all. I still had to pay court costs and was out several hours of my time because an inspector was either incompetent or was trying to justify his job.
There have been times when an inspector has found problems I have not seen, but they are far outweighed by the inspectors with "gotcha" attitudes. There is no avenue of appeal. No judge or justice of the peace is going to reinspect a vehicle to see if the inspector is competent. I'll bet even Ms. Cirillo herself couldn't administer a DOT inspection. Perhaps you could suggest to Ms. Cirillo that drivers would feel more confident about being inspected if she came up with a workable means of appeal.
Salt Lake City, UT
More survey info, please
Your article "New trucks, what owner-operators are buying," is interesting. I would like to suggest you do a survey on what all owner-operators are driving. I own an '88 KW W900B, and have recently restored this truck. I know many o-o's like me who are restoring older equipment. It would also be interesting to know out of your 44,000 members what percentage of trucks are new, old, etc. Also, what is the most popular engine, transmission, etc?
I know these facts really don't mean too much in the face of the real problems we deal with and thanks to OOIDA, many are being resolved, but sometimes it's just fun to think about something a little less heavy.
Gregory J. Stevenson
Editor's note: Watch for more of this type of info coming your way in 2000.
It's not what it costs, it's what it's worth
I got very excited after reading Jim Johnston's article "You drive OOIDA" and Todd Spencer's article "Desperate Measures." It's cheap to join OOIDA as a means of political action. Keep up the great work, folks. You're our lifeline.
Upper Marlboro, MD
Trucker's letter catches
Editor's Note: We saw the following letter by Dean Lemon in The Atlanta Constitution and obtained his permission to use it. OOIDA is trying to wake up the folks in Washington to the desperate need for safe places for truckers to park and our efforts are regularly frustrated by local attitudes that just don't want trucks around at all. Dean, you did a great job of explaining how bad the situation is.
The recent shooting of a trucker in Dekalb County emphasizes the severe lack of parking in Atlanta for the thousands of truckers who make deliveries in metro Atlanta every day. That trucker, as well as many others, had to park on the side of the street because the truckstop was full.
There are only two large truckstops in Atlanta. The other places are smaller fuel stops with limited parking. This is woefully inadequate for a city this size.
When companies have attempted to build facilities off I-20 in DeKalb and Rockdale counties they have been thwarted by the county commissioners. Apparently, officials would rather have tired drivers on the highway instead of a facility where they could get some rest, something to eat and a shower.
Wrongful ticket? Fight it!
I walked out of court again, a free man. The charge was 72 mph in a 55 zone. I really wasn't going that fast, but I took the time and contested it. I had stated the facts in a letter to the judge (in Indiana), so he knew that I lived in California. After the ruling, he asked me where I came from. He was astonished that I came from California to protest this citation. I won easily on this one because the cop did not show up. Evidently they thought I wouldn't either. That really seems to be all it is to these courts. It is not about right or wrong or justice.
A driver has better than a 50/50 chance just by having his dispatcher route him through the area where he was cited, taking the morning off and being in court. Most drivers will not get more than one citation a year, so it is only one day. Most companies run the same territories so the routing is not the problem. The problem is having the nerve and sticking up for what is right.
Your "truckstop lawyer"
San Juan, CA
Editor's Note: Congratulations, counselor. We hope this serves as an encouragement for other truckers.
No to more hours off duty
There isn't enough overnight parking available now to allow drivers to rest for the allotted eight hours off-duty that is presently called for. My support goes to 12 hours driving and four hours on duty, not driving and eight hours off duty, with 70 hours after eight days.
I say if they can't improve the HOS, then leave them the way they are, even though they were set up in 1939 when the equipment was deplorable compared to today's equipment.
Save the tigers
I am an owner-operator with Smithway Motor Xpress and on the board of directors of Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge in Eureka Springs, AR. We rescue abused and unwanted tigers, lions, cougars and other exotic animals nationwide. We currently have 104 big cats, bears and hoof stock. We have 450 acres that we are building natural habitats for the animals.
Tyson Food donates chicken, but we only have two small freezers that can handle four to six pallets of meat at a time. Each cat goes through about 10 to 20 lb. of meat a day so needless to say it doesn't last long! We are trying to find someone to donate a good used reefer trailer capable of making a 50 mile round trip once a week or more. We are a tax-deductible charity under IRS code 509(a)2, federal tax ID #71-0721742.
For more information you can contact Dave Schoonover at (316) 664-9997 or at email@example.com. Or contact Don Jackson at TCWR (501) 253-5841 or firstname.lastname@example.org. We would appreciate any donations. Check us out at www.turpentinecreek.org.